It would be an understatement to say that Neill Blomkamp‘s “Elysium,” which arrived four years after the filmmaker’s “District 9,” was hugely anticipated. Many looked forward to the former to see if the filmmaker was a one-hit wonder or a bold new genre voice, and the reactions were divisive. I liked the movie more than most, and thought the mix of social and political elements, if heavy-handed, mostly worked. But there were some really duff aspects, starting with the clunky flashback sequences. In case you were wondering, Blomkamp himself wishes he had a do-over.
“…I feel like I fucked it up,” the director candidly told Uproxx. “I feel like ultimately the story is not the right story. I still think the satirical idea of a ring filled with rich people hovering above the impoverished Earth is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn’t… I just didn’t make a good enough film is ultimately what it is. I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But ultimately it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn’t there…”
It’s a remarkably honest assessment, one you don’t hear very often from filmmakers working with hundreds of millions of dollars and A-list stars, but then again, Blomkamp has already tended to forge his own path. Moreover, he seems to understand what his flaws might be as a filmmaker.
“The problem with me is I get so caught up in concepts and ideas. Like I just said, the ring is so cool. The satirical idea of a diamond encrusted ring above, like, slums is such a satirically cool idea —I’m not like a normal person in the sense that I have to have a story for something to be interesting. Concepts are just as interesting to me as stories are. Where, to normal people, stories are more interesting,” he explains. “So that’s an example of what I mean. I can be like, ‘fuck, I love this ring, I love all the visual effects related to it, I love these images and how they’re juxtaposed with one another.’ And then be like, ‘as a director, I could have done better.’ And you sort of realize that all these people prefer this element I didn’t pay as much attention to, but I paid a lot of attention to this.”
But did he learn his lessons going into “Chappie” which opens on March 6th? And more importantly, will cool concept art translate into a good movie for his “Alien” flick? Time will tell…